Port of Houston operations, roads affected ahead of Harvey arrival

(Weather Channel image)

(Weather Channel image)

The time has arrived as the Texas coast braces for the nation’s first major hurricane landfall in 12 years. Hurricane Harvey was upgraded this afternoon to a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 125 mph. According to Riskpulse’s Real Time Analysis Feed for Harvey, the forecast track has remained consistent, with landfall later tonight near central Texas.

Riskpulse, a supply chain risk analytics firm, is saying that flooding remains a primary concern with rainfall totals surpassing 20 inches in some areas and the possibility of 40 inches through the middle of next week as the storm is forecast to stall over Texas.

“Our anticipated timing of the most significant impacts focuses on the late Saturday through early Wednesday period, when Harvey's forward motion is expected to be the slowest,” Riskpulse says. “This will provide opportunity for quasi-stationary bands of rain to form to the north of Harvey and deliver intense rainfall very quickly to a relative small area. At this time, the area of most concern is along the Interstate 10 corridor between San Antonio and Houston and points south toward Victoria.”

The National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) 5 p.m. update expects landfall to occur along the middle Texas coast. “After that, the track models insist that the hurricane will slow down considerably during the next 24 hours, and it is likely to move very little between 36 and 120 hours,” it said. “In fact, there has been a somewhat notable change in the guidance, with very few of the models showing Harvey lifting out toward the northeast by the end of the 5-day forecast period. As a result, the NHC track forecast has been pulled back a bit and keeps Harvey near or just inland of the Texas coast through the middle of next week. This slow motion only exacerbates the heavy rainfall and flooding threat across southern and southeastern Texas.”

That lingering of the storm is what could bring the heavier rainfall totals that Riskpulse is looking at.

“These heavy rains are anticipated to last through at least Wednesday as Harvey stalls,” it said. “It is not yet certain when or how quickly Harvey will move out of the central Texas coastline, but the heavy rainfall remains the most significant concern, with the danger of being catastrophic in locals in and south of the Houston metro beginning late Sunday.”

The Weather Channel was predicting storm surge of 1-3 feet near Lake Charles, LA, up to 12 feet in Port O’Connor, TX. Port closures in Texas and Louisiana are possible.

Rick D. Blasgen, president & CEO of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), sent out an email alert to members this afternoon looking for assistance with American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN).

Blasgen said that ALAN has been in contact with emergency management and non-profit partners regarding their response, but no “open logistics support requests” have been made at this time. Max Fuller, chairman of U.S. Xpress, said those needs will likely start rolling in on Sunday.

Blasgen went on to say that ALAN does anticipate needs for warehouse space, transportation and material handling equipment. “These requests may take several days to a week to surface as damage assessments are completed and local resources are exhausted,” he wrote.

Already, oil rigs and refineries had been shut down in advance of the storm. The Port of Houston closed all container terminals and general cargo facilities at noon on Friday. Truck in-gates will close at 11 p.m., it said on its website. Several highways in Texas have already been closed and the Texas Department of Transportation is updating its website at DriveTexas.org with updated road closures.

Ryder System recommended fleets to put safety first, to reinforce driver training on driving in adverse weather conditions such as heavy rain and wind, and to have drivers pack an emergency kit filled with water, non-perishable food, extra clothes, and blankets.

While Harvey may be impacting the Texas/Louisiana areas now, its effects will be felt for days as the moisture and winds from the system start to move across the country.